The people of Braunschweig know how to enjoy the good things in life. When it comes to choosing a beer, quality and tradition are paramount to them. The art of brewing is deeply entwined with the history of the city and reaches back all the way to the Middle Ages. In those days, there were more than 300 breweries in Braunschweig, two of which still continue to provide excellent beers, made following old brewing traditions, to Braunschweig’s citizens, visitors and connoisseurs.
Beer brewing was pivotal to the city’s economy
Beer brewing has a long tradition in Braunschweig, one that is closely connected to the city’s history. It began in medieval times, when brewing beer and, most importantly, Mumme was at its zenith in Braunschweig. Originally, every full citizen living in the city was entitled to brew beer. While most people made beer for their own consumption only, some farmers started trading beer as a commodity in the Middle Ages.
In order to control the beer trade, the general brewing law was soon replaced with the so-call “real law” that linked brewing rights to specific houses. During the Middle Ages, there were about 300 breweries in Braunschweig alone. The brewing guild was held in great esteem. Besides Mumme and red beer (a pure barley beer), white beer (made from barley and wheat) or Broyhan was brewed.
For a time around 1600, beer brewing and the corresponding beer trade took centre stage in Braunschweig’s economy. Over the years, competition grew fierce, both amongst the breweries in Braunschweig and with those in nearby towns. As a result, the city’s brewing code began to regulate the beer trade considerably, also influencing the variety of beer and the different levels of intensity available.
Hofbrauhaus Wolters since 1627
Hofbrauhaus Wolters was founded in 1627 when Zacharias Boiling acquired the brewing rights of the building that would later become the Haus zur Hanse. Boiling was one of the first to be active in the beer trade. In 1743, Heinrich Wolters married into the brewing house and gave it his name. Since then, the brewery has been led by six generations of Wolters family members. In 1876, Duke Wilhelm of Braunschweig and Lüneburg bestowed on it the title “Hofbierbrauhaus” (royal court brewery). In 1882, Hofbrauhaus Wolters received the distinction “Herzögliches Hofbrauhaus” (ducal royal court brewery). This honour, along with the production of a durable lager beer and the modern production site at Wolfenbütteler Straße were the basis for Hofbrauhaus Wolters’s economic success.
Changes in brewing practices
Up until the 19th century, beer was brewed by top fermenting. Only after it became possible to brew at lower temperatures in cellars and cold stores, did breweries start to produce bottom-fermented lagers.
In Braunschweig, Hofbrauhaus Wolters began producing lager in 1848, putting the brewery at a decisive economic advantage. The number of breweries able to brew at low temperatures was very small.
Schloss Richmond gives Feldschlößchen Brewery its name
Around the same time, the Bendt Brothers founded Feldschlößchen Brewery in close proximity to Hofbrauhaus Wolters. The name, meaning “little castle in the field” honours nearby country palace Schloss Richmond. After Feldschlößchen Brewery was sold to Oettinger Brauerei GmbH in 2009, Hofbrauhaus Wolters began brewing Feldschlößchen Pilsener under a fee brewing contract.
National Jürgens Brewery (NJB) until 1977
Another large brewery in Braunschweig was National Jürgens Brewery (NJB). It closed in 1977. Founded in the 19th century, it was created by the merger of two breweries.
In 1838, Carl Friedrich Jürgens founded the brewery “F. Jürgens” on Wendenstraße. In 1872, the company moved to a larger site at Rebenring. The brewery became a publicly-owned company and received the name “National Actien Brewery”. Shortly thereafter, Jürgens founded a new company (Friedrich Jürgens Brewery). When this brewery merged with the National Brewery in 1920, the National Jürgens Brewery was created. After much experimenting, in 1967 the brewery finally succeeded in making a top-fermented dark beer similar to the beers popular in the Rhineland, calling it “Brunswiek Alt”. In 1977, the brewery merged with Feldschlößchen Brewery.
“Hops Diploma” at Schadt’s Brewery Restaurant
Since 1985, Schadt’s Brewery Restaurant brews Pilsener, wheat beer and various seasonal beers from its own recipes and in accordance with the German purity law. In the seating area, patrons can observe the ripening beers in open fermenting vats. During the brewery tour, one highlight is the “Hops Diploma” handed out to each visitor.
A. Schultz, 350 Jahre Hofbrauhaus Wolters, Tradition und moderne Technik, Braunschweig, 1977.
Braunschweiger Stadtlexikon, Meyer Verlag Braunschweig, 1992.
http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/National-Jürgens-Brauerei, 27 June 2012).